Is following the coffee industry like following sport?

I follow the ins and outs of the coffee industry – especially in Queensland – pretty closely (so congrats to the team at Dandelion and Driftwood for taking out every podium spot at the Queensland Barista Championships last weekend), I found this little piece from Jason Kottke pretty interesting. I think you could take the analogy to different places based on familiarity with what you’re talking about (Kottke is a self-confessed non-coffee drinker). Specialty Coffee is like the Champions League, pod coffee is like the hackers league I play in on a Saturday.

“Coffee, like almost everything else these days, is a sport. Everyone has a favorite team (or coffee making method or political affiliation or design style or TV drama or rapper or comic book), discusses techniques and relives great moments with other likeminded fans, and argues with fans of other teams. The proliferation and diversification of media over the past 35 years created thousands of new sports and billions of new teams. These people turned hard-to-find nail polish into a sport. Thesepeople support Apple in their battle against Microsoft and Samsung. This guy scouts fashion phenoms on city streets. Finding the best bowl of ramen in NYC is a sport. Design is a sport. Even hating sports is a sport; people compete for the funniest “what time is the sportsball match today? har har people who like sports are dumb jocks” joke on Twitter. Let people have their sports, I say. Liking coffee can’t be any worse than liking the Yankees, can it?”

In the top leagues focusing on really small improvements that give you an advantage does make a big difference. Where the analogy breaks down though is that in coffee, in my observation, it’s more like the whole specialty industry playing together against the whole pod coffee industry – people work together, share intelligence, and are typically pretty friendly to each other. Maybe in the sphere of fandom and ‘customer loyalty’ there’s a little bit of competition…


Brisbane Cafe Review: Espressohead, West End

West End is where it’s at in terms of good coffee per square metre. Cup, BlackStar, and Veneziano are all within cooee of each other – and they’re all pretty special… the main drag in West End is littered with cafes offering breakfast and a morning hit of coffee. So we decided to branch out from our old reliable favourites (well, we went to Veneziano as well…).

The nice shiny white La Marzocco on the bench at Espressohead was enough to pique my interest – I spied it as we drove down Boundary Street looking for a parking spot, and a breakfast option.

The breakfast menu was pretty good. Not fancy pants. But I went with the pork belly, poached egg, and beans…

My wife always orders the Eggs Benedict. And she wasn’t disappointed with this one.

The food was ok. There are better breakfasts out there. It’s a nice little hole in the wall, and the staff were friendly. But this, afterall, is a coffee blog.

Espressohead uses Two Seasons Coffee – which has a nice rotating blend conceptual approach to curating and roasting, and a nice colourful logo.

The coffee, to be frank, was good, but not great. It was an El Salvadorian Finca Miravalles. The temperature was passable, the milk was well textured, though not the velvet you might get from a purveyor of specialty coffee. The lack of latte art was a problem – because it was pretty much solid crema for the first few mouthfuls.

So up front it was pretty bitter. When I’d stirred it and after a few sips, it was well rounded – but nothing extraordinary. It had a slightly nutty aftertaste, but there was none of the caramel, the dark chocolate, the citrus, or the berry notes that really special coffee packs in. It was just coffee.

Creative design from the South

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